ST. LOUIS -- Again unable to solve Reds rookie lefty John Lamb, the Cardinals pounced on the Cincinnati bullpen after his departure to steal a 2-1, come-from-behind win on Monday night that dropped their magic number for a division title to nine. The victory was the Cardinals' 12th of the season when trailing after seven innings.
After stranding the potential tying run at third in the seventh, the Cardinals snapped the Reds' Busch Stadium scoreless-innings streak at 29 an inning later. Tommy Pham opened the inning with a triple and scored on Jhonny Peralta's single to right. Peter Bourjos, plugged in to pinch-run, then motored home as Stephen Piscotty drove a double to left-center.
"We'll keep the fans from leaving if we keep doing this," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the team's 38th comeback victory. "Man, I don't know how many times we've seen it this year. Just keep playing the game and trust that somebody is going to get it done."
The Cardinals needed the win, too, to maintain their four-game lead over the Pirates and a six-game advantage over the Cubs in the division.
The pair of runs off J.J. Hoover cost Lamb his second Major League win. Lamb, who has a 6.19 ERA in his six season starts against anyone other than the Cardinals, has held St. Louis scoreless over 11 innings this month.
"Really, it started with the first pitch, an elevated fastball that Pham was able to square up and reach third base," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Hoover. "They took advantage of pitches to hit there, it looked like. It's the tough part of those late-inning roles. Quite often you're coming up against their better players with very little margin for error. He just didn't have the margin for error to pitch through that inning without giving up the lead."
The Reds jumped on Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia for a first-inning run, using a leadoff walk and singles by Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to take the early lead. But Garcia settled in from there, allowing just three more singles in a seven-inning start to buy time for the Cardinals' offense to strike.
"What I did after that [first inning] was the same exact thing, but I was maybe a little lower in the strike zone, and that allowed me to get more ground balls," Garcia said. "I keep saying this over and over, that it's about competing and keeping us in the ballgame and giving us a chance to win. All the starters take a lot of pride in that. Today, it paid off."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Feeling Rosey: With a scoreless ninth, Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal notched his 47th save, tying him with Lee Smith and Jason Isringhausen for the franchise record. Rosenthal, who saved 45 games a year ago, has converted all but two of his chances this year and hasn't blown a save since before the All-Star break. On Monday, he had to work around two one-out singles to seal the one-run win.
"It's really special," Rosenthal said. "Obviously, to do anything like that in an organization that I came up with and to make a mark, it's important to me, and also to have my name along those guys."
We're going streaking: With a first-inning single, Votto reached safely in his 38th consecutive game, three shy of his career high. In the sixth inning, Votto drew his 136th walk of the season, breaking his own club record that he set in 2013. No one in the Majors has walked in one season as much as Votto since Barry Bonds set the all-time record with 232 walks in 2004.
Lamb not rewarded: Lamb worked one batter into the seventh inning, the first time he's pitched into the seventh in his brief big league career. Despite his six-plus scoreless innings, Lamb got the no-decision. He allowed five hits and a walk with six strikeouts. The lefty's night started strong, as he struck out four of his first six batters. It was the Reds' first quality start since Sept. 12.
"I was just trying to execute -- not our game plan -- but a game plan of just throwing strikes and getting ahead and getting them into swing mode," Lamb said. "It felt like we were doing that. Early was good, on our end, getting those bats to realize that we were coming at them."
No extra bases: Despite limitations with his throwing arm, the Cardinals put Randal Grichuk in left field, hopeful his bat would make up for his inability to make a strong throw. The Reds were unable to take advantage. With a relay throw to shortstop Peralta, Grichuk was able to get Eugenio Suarez trying to stretch a single into a two-base hit in the sixth. And perhaps unaware that Grichuk had been double-switched out of the game in the top half of the seventh, Todd Frazier was thrown out trying to advance to second on a fly ball out to left. Piscotty had replaced Grichuk.
"We'd do the exact same thing," Matheny said of the Reds' gamble to run on Grichuk. "If we find a weakness … you take what you can get."
"A couple of years from now, maybe even next year, I'll give him that opportunity to pitch through that. … For a young guy, I think building up confidence and building up his success and having good outings against good teams, in particular, is a very valuable stepping stone to getting those opportunities in the future. He did nothing to warrant coming out of the game, it was completely my decision. He felt good, I just felt leaving him in a situation where I'd have to go to the bullpen with guys on base and they're his runs after all that work, that wasn't the best way to do it." -- Price on the decision to lift Lamb in the seventh with 84 pitches.
PRICE ADMITS MISTAKE
In the seventh inning, after Burke Badenhop got a flyout from Tony Cruz, Wong tagged up and reached third base safely in a close play. As Price was already on the field, out to stall for his team to check replays, he notified the umpire of a double switch and brought in lefty Manny Parra to face Matt Adams, who was on deck. Adams had yet to be announced, so Matheny quickly adjusted and called on right-handed slugger Matt Holliday. Parra got out of the one-out jam leaving Wong stranded, however.
"That was my mistake. Absolutely, no doubt about it," Price said. "We were waiting for the out/safe [call], and so when we realized we weren't going to challenge it, I made an incorrect assumption that Adams had been in the game, and I made the double switch, and by the time it was [done, Adams] had yet to be announced in the game. So it was completely my fault."
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Votto will be looking to keep his streak of reaching safely alive when the series continues at 8:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Keyvius Sampson will be making the start. Of his last six outings, five have been four innings or fewer.
Cardinals:John Lackey will be looking to make his 19th straight start of at least six innings when he takes the mound for the Cardinals against the Reds on Tuesday. Lackey became the team's first starter to reach the 200-inning benchmark his last time out. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 pm CT.